Mike and Krys Cook raise some beautiful heritage hogs, including Berskhires and Red Wattles, Large Blacks and Durocs. They’ve got nearly 500 of them living happy hog lives out their ranch in Julian where, as they’re known to do, they pig out on nearly 2,000 pounds of food every day.
To help supplement all that feed, the farmers head to Aztec Brewing Company in Vista once a week to pick up two to four tons of what’s known in the industry as “spent grain.” It’s the byproduct of the beer-making process, after the mash does the work of extracting the sugars and other nutrients required to get the fermentation process started, eventually transforming it into that nectar we know you all love: beer.
Once the grains leave the mash, they no longer have any value to the brewery, but they’re highly coveted by farmers like the Cooks, who say the wet mixture makes a healthy and valuable feed supplement for cows, pigs and other livestock. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship that brewers and farmers have had for literally centuries. But a proposed FDA rule may change all that.